At early hours, on 1 December, the Arecibo telescope’s instrument platform crashed into the big dish. The notable radio telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed, leaving the scientific community in shock. The noise of the famous “Is there anybody out there?” gone for good.

Maybe this is an old news to talk about, but I will like to pay a tribute. Why? Because Arecibo Observatory wasn’t just valued in the science world with its famous SETI – Search for extraterrestrial intelligence program but in the cinematic world. It was a famous movie star!

In 1995, “GoldenEye” was the seventeenth James Bond film and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the British secret service agent, James Bond. The nervously wrecking fighting to save the world scene took place in Arecibo.

In 1995, “Species” a movie about the evil alien lady. During the SETI program, Earth’s scientists send out transmissions (the Arecibo message) with information about Earth and its inhabitants, DNA structure, etc., in hopes of finding life beyond Earth. I’m going to stop here as I still have nightmares from the alien lady!

In 1997, “Contact”, a movie about Dr. Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer, who discovers the existence of intelligent aliens through radio signals, who are sending plans for a mysterious machine.

I was a teenager when I saw these movies. I didn’t know much of Arecibo then and its scientific glory. I knew it as a big, giant dish/antenna led by the great stories and plots, fulfilling the amazing scenography. Sticking to my favorite James Bond movie, GoldenEye, and I have seen them all, something caused wonder in me, to enter the supper spy life, especially when James Bond and Natalya Simonova, paired to uncover a satellite dish and a hidden base to destroy it, before Boris and Trevelyan aka Janus use the GoldenEye to devastate London. And still from time to time, I’m doing the: “I am invincible” Boris scene.

The reach the unknown, the universe. When I saw “Contact”, I was captivated by space and the big questions that were raised, and Dr. Ellie Arroway worked for the “actual” SETI program at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, listening to the radio emissions from space, hoping to find evidence of alien life. The movie absorbed me, both scientifically and philosophically.

I was blessed to visit the Observatory back in 2017 before the devasted hurricane happened, following the earthquake next year, damaging the telescope for good. It was win-win situation, scientifically and cinematically for me, something to scratch from my Bucket list.
What a joy! Standing there in person and re-watching the scenes from the movies I was extremely fond of.

Does the world have an iconic scientific/cinematic star to praise now that Arecibo is gone? Maybe, maybe not. In the end the Chinese build the Tianyan “Sky/Heaven Eye”, similar and larger telescope as Arecibo. Will it become sensation and inspiration to the future filmmakers? Only the time will show.

But I hope science and its “gadgets” will continue to be the force of inspiration.

Thank you,

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!